Seeking to avoid ruffling the feathers of the investment banks whose activities it tracks, Thomson Financial Securities Data has canceled plans to publish a ranking of the top individual dealmakers in Europe, even as a competitor already providing a European table prepares to introduce a U.S. version.
Securities Data, which is owned by Thomson Financial, the parent company of American Banker, had scheduled a midyear launching for its European rankings after a U.K. start-up, Mergermarket.com, unveiled its dealmaker tables for Europe.
Mergermarket.com's effort, unveiled at a gala dinner in London, met with a mixed reception among investment banks. The rankings and the hubbub surrounding them prompted some banks to complain that a star culture was being promoted that did not adequately reflect the team aspect of M&A advisory work.
"We would prefer to stress teamwork inside the company and probably not like to stress the individuals," said Neal McGarity, a spokesman for UBS Warburg in Stamford, Conn.
Mergermarket.com, formed this year after a management-led buyout of a research unit that was part of the British newspaper The Financial News, plans to do similar rankings for U.S. deals at the end of this year or the beginning of 2001, said the firm's chief executive officer, Caspar Hobbs. His reasoning: Corporations want and use the data when they are picking an adviser.
"We were coming in at the end of a groundswell of feeling against these rankings," said Gillian Middleton, European research manager at Securities Data in London. Securities Data will continue with plans to publish individual rankings of the biggest legal advisers, however.
The incident is yet another tempest over league table credits, particularly in the area of merger and acquisition advisory work, where transaction size has shot through the roof in recent years. Companies have waged bitter battles recently to be included in rankings for advisory roles on large deals.
In one notable case, Securities Data's first-quarter merger and acquisition rankings were held up after some of the investment bank advisers on the AOL/Time Warner deal argued over the eligibility of firms brought in as advisers after the initial work on the deal had been done.